Archive for June, 2011

Southern Baptist Head Offers No Apology on Homosexuality Stance

Monday, June 27th, 2011

By Lee Warren | Christian Post Reporter

 

Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright met with a coalition of leaders from LGBT groups who wanted the Convention to apologize for what they described as the harm the SBC has caused by their teaching on homosexuality.

(Photo: Baptist Press / Bill Bangham)

Bryant Wright, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, speaks during SBC’s annual meeting in Phoenix, Ariz., which took place June 14-15, 2011.

 

Wright, who is the pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., listened to them on Wednesday during the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix, Ariz., but stood firm on the Scripture.

A nine-person coalition, including representatives of Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, Faith in America and Truth Wins Out, protested outside the convention hall and after requesting to deliver 10,000 signed petitions to Wright, he sat down at a roundtable with four of them.

Baptist Press described the meeting as cordial.

While Wright refused to budge on the issue, saying the Scripture is clear, he did listen to the coalition’s concerns as they made repeated attempts to link racism and a stance against homosexuality.

Wright rejected the notion.

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“Obviously, we don’t feel that there can be an apology for teaching sexual purity,” Wright said, according to Baptist Press. “As followers of Christ, our only authority for practicing our faith is Scripture, is the Word of God. … As followers of Christ it would be very difficult for us to betray our faith by ignoring what God says about sexual purity.”

The SBC statement on sexuality reads: “Homosexuality is not a ‘valid alternative lifestyle.’ The Bible condemns it as sin. It is not, however, unforgivable sin. The same redemption available to all sinners is available to homosexuals. They, too, may become new creations in Christ.”

Thom Hunter, a self-described Southern Baptist who has struggled with homosexuality and the author of Surviving Sexual Brokenness: What Grace Can Do, voiced his opinion about how the SBC should respond to the coalition’s petition.

“The petition should be met with a commitment to pray for the members of these groups and the many they lead astray,” Hunter wrote in a post on the SBC Voices blog (sbcvoices.com). “No apologies are in order, but our hearts should respond to their brokenness. What an opportunity to show love and grace … and a commitment to our beliefs and the hope that endures for wholeness.”

Wright attempted to do just that by making the case that speaking against a particular sin doesn’t mean the speaker hates the person who is in that sin.

“When I teach from the pulpit about adultery, I don’t hate adulterers,” Wright said. “Just as we have people attending our local church that are engaging in homosexual activity, we have people attending our church who are engaging in adultery. I don’t hate those people when I speak about adultery. I am just, hopefully, loving them enough to speak the truth about what God desires for the best for that person.”

The coalition contended that ex-gay ministries were harmful, but Wright said there really have been people who left homosexuality through these ministries.

Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International – a worldwide ministry that helps believers who have unwanted same-sex attraction to live a life that reflects the Christian faith – says there are tens of thousands of men and women who once identified as gay, but they found that change is possible.

Hunter believes the petitions from the coalition “should create an urgency for SBC churches to educate pastors, leaders and members on how to minister to people who struggle with homosexuality.”

“Our members need to know how to move beyond Leviticus and into I Corinthians,” Hunter wrote. “Less abomination; greater grace.”

In the end, Wright was gracious in his refusal to apologize.

“Looking at sexual purity from Scripture, we’re not going to be able to come to common ground,” he added. “I hope you all would respect that we’re just seeking to follow Jesus.”

RC Bishops “leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled.”

Monday, June 27th, 2011
Posted by Kendall Harmon


The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled.

We strongly uphold the Catholic Church’s clear teaching that we always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love. But we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children, ordered for the good of those children and the spouses themselves. This definition cannot change, though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths. Read more…

New York Episcopal Bishop Mark Sisk Welcomes Passage of Same Sex Marriage

Monday, June 27th, 2011

 


Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It was with thanksgiving and joy that I received the news of the New York State legislature’s affirmative action on the Marriage Equality legislation that it had been debating with such intensity.

The legislation, as enacted, appears to be closely aligned with the long standing views of this Diocese that the civil rights of all people should be respected equally before the law. In terms of the issue of marriage rights for gay and lesbian people that position was made most explicit in the resolution enacted at our 2009 Diocesan Convention.

The legislature’s action in broadening the definition of marriage to include same sex unions has to do with civil law, as it properly should. It does not determine Church teaching about the nature of sacraments. That is our continuing work. However, nothing in the unfinished nature of that work should cause us to hesitate to give our most profound thanks for the step that has been taken in affording equal civil rights for our brothers and sisters.

Faithfully yours, (The Rt. Rev.) Mark Sisk

CANADA: Liberal Anglican Leaders Rejoice over Supreme Court Victory Tossing out Orthodox Parishes

Monday, June 27th, 2011

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
June  2011

Like their American counterparts, liberal Anglican leaders in Canada are winning legal but pyrrhic victories in property disputes with orthodox parishes that hold “to the faith delivered once for all to the saints”.

In a letter to Michael Ingham, Bishop of New Westminster, Canadian primate Fred Hiltz gloated over the recent Supreme Court decision to let him keep the properties of four Vancouver-area parishes in the ACoC, including the largest most vibrant parish in Canada, St. John’s Shaughnessy. In a “Dear Michael,” letter, Hiltz noted that he was pleased to hear of the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada to deny Leave to Appeal to those who have launched law suits against the Diocese of New Westminster over its decision concerning the blessing of same sex unions.

Hiltz went on to eulogize Ingham, the first man to fracture the entire Anglican Communion by allowing the blessing of same sex unions, drawing the wrath and ire of Global South Anglicans by saying, “With integrity and insight, you represented the Anglican Church of Canada, its constitution, Canons and recognized decision making processes within the synods of our church – diocesan, provincial, and General. Our entire church owes you a great debt of gratitude. That expression of thanks is extended to your chancellor, solicitor, communications officer and others who supported you in your endeavors to represent our church with such resolve, grace and dignity.”

The archbishop went on to say that Ingham had been slanderously attacked “both professionally and personally,” but had stood his ground and upheld the decisions of his synod, claiming that Ingham had “consistently modeled” and was as “pastorally accommodating of a variety of theological perspectives in these matters as possible.

Quickly trading on the news of Ingham’s victory, the Bishop of Niagara, the Rt. Rev. Michael Bird wrote, “The decision clears the way for us to proceed to a trial involving the disputed ownership of three parishes in the Diocese of Niagara. This matter has been deliberated upon at every level of our Canadian legal system and this most recent decision must surely remove any question as to our ownership of these properties. Like our counterparts in British Columbia, the issue of same-sex relationships is well behind us and we are fully engaged in the work of mission and re-visioning our church as it engages with and serves the people of this generation. The diocese has been very patient over these years but now we hope that this property dispute can be resolved quickly.”

The Diocese of Niagara has instructed its legal counsel to move forward expeditiously to bring this matter to trial, he said.

In February, the Diocese of Ottawa struck a deal selling St. George’s Anglican Church to the Anglican Network in Canada (ANIC), confirming the B.C. Court rulings. In 2008, clergy and congregations in the historic churches of St. Alban’s and St. George’s in downtown Ottawa voted to join the Anglican Network primarily because of their opposition to the blessing of same-sex civil unions. This negotiated settlement followed legal action initiated by the Diocese of Ottawa against the two dissident parishes.

In victory, Ingham seems oblivious over what he has done, along with the depth of feeling orthodox Anglicans have towards revisionist bishops like him. He has no perception of the evil he has committed nor of the revisionist path he has taken the diocese down that will only further alienate his diocese and the Anglican Church of Canada and an ecclesiastically impotent Archbishop of Canterbury from the Global South. Is it any wonder that when Nigerian Archbishop Nicholas Okoh visits Canada for the first time next month, he will make a point of not seeing his Anglican counterpart Fred Hiltz?

“We are, and continue to be, respectful of genuine differences of conviction among faithful Christians. In a spirit of mutual respect, it is now time to move forward together,” opined Ingham. One wonders what world he is living in. The “differences” are between the options of heaven and hell, life and death. If these “differences” were just minor, there would be no need for the ANIC or the Anglican Coalition of Canada. But the differences are of such an eternal weight of glory, they cannot be lightly passed over.

There will be no moving forward. The vast majority of parishioners will leave those four churches and set up shop elsewhere. What will it cost the diocese to keep the doors open on four near empty parishes and putting in faux evangelical clergy to sustain the fiction that all is well? The “sad divisions” Ingham hopes may be healed are also a fiction. The divisions will never be healed in this life or the next. The huge unbridgeable divide has to do with “sound teaching” and doctrine upon which rests the fate of souls in this life and the next. That is something that is not up for discussion.

The Metropolitan for the Anglican Provincial Synod of British Columbia and Yukon, the Most Rev. John E. Privett weighed in with this, “We will continue as a Church to seek the most generous pastoral responses possible in our differing contexts as we continue, in good faith, to respond to God’s call to love and justice. It is my prayer that in God’s time and with God’s grace there will be a healing of the divisions amongst us and a renewed commitment to the Mission of God that we share with all Christians throughout the world.”

One wonders just how much spin you can pack into one paragraph. The only “generous pastoral response” has been endless litigation and a revisionist mindset of Bishop Ingham as he stomps on 2000 years of dogma, morality and church history, inhibiting and deposing his own clergy even and including the finest Anglican theologian in Canada Dr. J. l. Packer.

Healing. There is none and never will be. With two very different gospels and two very different understandings of the “Mission of God” there can be no reconciliation. The gap between the Anglican Church of Canada, the ANIC and the Anglican Coalition of Canada is so deep and so wide that only a full repentance by Ingham and Hiltz of their apostasies is reconciliation even remotely possible.And that is not going to happen.

Those who left knew their souls would be at stake had they decided to stay along with the souls of future generations who would never hear the clarion call of the gospel in parishes over which hung the cloak and mitre of a revisionist bishop. That is a bridge too far.

They also know that theological liberalism has no future. Liberals have succeeded in taking over orthodox parishes and then devouring them. They cannot build a single church or make a single convert because they have no gospel to proclaim. The affirmation and acceptance of pansexual sin will ultimately be the downfall of the diocese and the Anglican Church of Canada which is already hemorrhaging members and parishes. By infiltrating orthodox parishes, and then, over time, taking them over proves only that Satan is hard at work, and will be so until the end of time.

This win for Ingham is a hollow victory for the Diocese of New Westminster, because it’s already having trouble keeping its coffers and its parish churches filled. The four parishes he now claims are significant in size. To keep the doors open will require much money.

A church in point is small St. Simon’s in North Vancouver. Since that parish left the diocese, Ingham has had to provide over $250,000 dollars in diocesan subsidies to keep the doors open, a VOL blogger noted. “That parish entity saw its income from receipted donations drop by 90% (approximately $240,000 to $24,000) when the St. Simon’s people departed.

“Ingham says that the money for lawyers can now be spent on other things. This is probably going to be a big part of it, now that he has to underwrite four big parishes which will be bereft of people.”

The pain of departure is great, VOL was told, but the pain of staying in a spiritually, morally and theologically bankrupt church is even greater. One cannot joust with the devil. That is a losing proposition. He who sups with the Devil should have a long spoon.

Sooner or later, Bishop Michael Ingham will learn that to his eternal damnation.

END

Turning the world upside down

Monday, June 27th, 2011
The top five news stories you need to know about from the past week.
Russell Powell

Anglicanism Changing!

June 24th, 2011

We are witnessing a huge continental shift in world christianity. It’s not just been this week, this year or even this decade, but I mention it this week because several of the breaking stories on sydneyanglicans.net relate to this changing of the old order. There was once a time when the educated, cultured north led the way in Christian mission to the Southern Hemisphere. Not any more.

The religious blogs in the US are alight with the news that the influential Pew survey of protestant leaders globally, has just been released and shows this continental realignment. To quote from the survey “Evangelical Protestant leaders who live in the Global South (sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and most of Asia) generally are optimistic about the prospects for evangelicalism in their countries. But those who live in the Global North (Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand) tend to be more pessimistic.” What’s wrong with that sentence? Just a minor global positioning error which puts Australia and New Zealand in the Global North! Anyway, the Washington Post has written a good summary of the findings.

The survey was released just one day ahead of the announcement that an English missionary society has been formed with a push from friends in the global south, to plant churches and support orthodox Anglicans. It’s called the Anglican Mission in England – AMIE. You can read the details here. Similar societies have flourished in the US over the last decade as the Episcopal Church slipped further into liberalism. This is a very important development and one that needs prayer and support. There’s an excellent commentarty from Charles Raven, well worth reading.

With evangelism in the global south comes persecution, and this week there was a frightening statistic made public – that Christians are dying for their faith at the rate of one every five minutes. Unfortunately the figure is borne out by news from Sudan, where another purge of Christians is underway. Last week I reported that Archbiship Daniel Deng Bul Yak had spoken of genocide and “the threats to, and arrest and torture of, pastors and known Christians because of their faith…” This week, his colleague Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail of Kadugli, asks for a day of prayer for Sudan, this Sunday. Please pass this on to your churches.

Among other stories that we as Sydney Anglicans should be praying about, the earthquake disaster has led to parts of Christchurch being abandoned, and in China, 36 million (!) have been affected by flooding. Not a word from most of our media outlets, but the Christian Post covers it here.

Finally, some light relief, if the Westboro Baptist cult could ever be called that. Churchgoers at Mars Hill, Seattle handed them coffee and donuts when they came to protest.

Interview: Bishop Gene Robinson on His Participation in SF Pride

Monday, June 27th, 2011

June2011, 3:37 pm • Posted by Jon Brooks
Gene Robinson. (Photo: Oasis California)

Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson from New Hampshire is in town to attend San Francisco Pride for the first time. The election of the openly gay Robinson to bishop in 2003 contributed to a schism within the Anglican Communion, a worldwide association of churches.KQED’s Stephanie Martin spoke to Robinson over the phone today about his participation in Pride. Listen below; a transcript follows.

Bishop Gene Robinson on participating in SF Pride

Have you ever been to the San Francisco Pride celebration before?

This is my first time at San Francisco Pride and I’m just so excited to be here because this is the great granddaddy of all celebrations.

What made you decide this year you should come?

I’ve been part of Pride in other cities and I got an invitation by Oasis California, which is the Episcopal diocese ‘s ministry to and with the LGBT community, and I wanted to be supportive of them. I also think it’s important for religious groups to participate in Pride because, let’s face it, it’s synagogues and churches and mosques who are responsible for most of the discrimination that the LGBT community has experienced over the years, and it’s important that community hear the faith community is changing and is willing to accept them and love them for who they are.

And I understand you’re going to be delivering something similar to that message the morning before Pride?

At 9 a.m. on the corner of Main and Folsom, we’ll be doing a service. The Lutheran bishop will be celebrating the communion service and I will be preaching. It’s a chance for LGBT folks who are people of faith to gather and remember that the acceptance and the affirmation that we so want from the culture ultimately comes from God, who loves all of God’s children, including gay and lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

I think we’ve seen a real shift in this country partly because so many of us have come out. Love trumps whatever teachings you might have grown up with.


Do you have any sense of how you’re going to be feeling as you actually parade down Market street?
Often pride is cited as one of the great sins, but in fact for oppressed people having sense of pride and who you are and who God created you to be is really the key to happiness and peace. So a Pride celebration is anything but sinful; it is a real affirmation, both from the people in the parade and those watching it, that we are citizens of this country and entitled to our civil rights, and as people of faith we lay claim to the love that God has for all of God’s children. So as one of the gay men in that parade I will be proud to march with my brothers and sisters.

You’re no stranger to controversy. Do you expect your presence at this parade will stir things up in any way?

What I think we’ve seen is a real shift in this country partly because so many of us have come out. And love trumps whatever teachings you might have grown up with. Sure, there are still people who disagree with our own self-affirmation and certainly with our claim that God affirms us as well. But they are very quickly becoming a minority and I think we will look back on this very soon and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Sexual Revolution: Built Upon Sand

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

by Anthony Esolen

June  2011
The body has a language of its own, and the sexual revolution is founded upon a lie.

Recently in Public Discourse, I challenged readers to defend the sexual revolution on the grounds that it has conduced to the common good. No one took up that challenge. It would be, I suppose, rather like asking someone to defend the forced collectivization of farms in the Ukraine, while speaking to ten thousand people in Kiev. It is not going to happen.

Still, I might have given the impression that the sexual revolution is to be rejected on utilitarian grounds. Since I believe that utilitarianism is a serpent that consumes itself—that it is a disutility to believe in it—I’d like now to base my opposition on something far more fundamental than, say, the harm of wrecked families and bursting prisons. The sexual revolution is a house built upon sand. It is founded upon a lie.

Let us consider the one form of sexual behavior that almost nobody defended before the sexual revolution, and that almost nobody opposes now: fornication. A few pastors may take the sin seriously, but mostly we all shrug and say, “Everyone’s going to do it, so there’s no sense making a fuss over it.” And yet what we are talking about is deeply destructive, because it is fundamentally mendacious. When we lie, we harm not only those we deceive. We harm ourselves. If we continue in this deception, we become hardened liars, in the end perhaps deceiving no one but ourselves. The thief knows he is stealing. The liar ceases to know that he is lying, and is trapped in the emptiness of unmeaning. The thief crucified at the side of Jesus knew he was a thief, and repented. The liars walking freely below no longer recognized their lies, and did not repent.

How is fornication a lie? The body has a language of its own. Although in one culture to nod means “no” while in another it means “yes,” the meanings we express with our bodies are not entirely arbitrary—indeed, are in some ways not arbitrary at all. The smile, the laugh, the embrace, the bow, the kiss, are universal. When Judas approached Jesus, that he kissed Him made his treachery all the more despicable; it was a betrayal, sealed with a sign of intimate friendship. When the boys in Huckleberry Finn prick their fingers to mingle blood with blood, we know they are engaging in a boyish but also solemn ritual of kinship. If a certain boy—say, Tom Sawyer’s sissified brother Sid—were to engage in it while withholding his allegiance, thinking, “This is an interesting thing to do for now, and we’ll see where it leads,” he would be making a mockery of the rite. He would be lying.

I know someone who at age nineteen was deeply lonely. He had always been awkward around girls, and unsure of his body. During his first year away at college, he fell in love with a beautiful young woman. She had been raised without any religious faith, and without any sexual scruples. He lost his virginity then. He knew, in the back of his mind, that he and she could not possibly raise any child that might be conceived; and he was too intelligent to believe that contraception could be entirely reliable. He also knew, again in the back of his mind, that he wanted to marry her, but that she probably would not want to marry him. He knew that his parents would not approve of what he was doing. Yet it felt good, and for a time he was not lonely, or at least he did not feel his loneliness so keenly.

What the naked body “says” when man and woman expose themselves to one another, not as patients to a doctor but as lovers, can be paraphrased thus: “This is all of me. I am entirely yours. I am giving you what is most intimately mine. You are seeing me, and touching me, as no one else now can. I love you.” Then the act of intercourse itself, the marital act—what does it say? What must it say, whether we will or no?

This is the act that spans the generations. The man gives of himself, something of his inmost being, the very blood that courses in his veins, from his father and mother and their parents before them. The woman receives that gift, taking it into herself, to be united with her own blood, from her father and mother and their parents in turn. It is nonsense to pretend otherwise. Indeed, the man and the woman who are fornicating while taking contraceptive steps know quite well that they are doing what brought themselves into being, because otherwise they would not strap on the barrier or swallow the pill. They are attempting to reduce an act that is transtemporal to something pleasurable for the moment.

And yet, somehow, they cannot even persuade themselves. I recall, at one of those useless meetings that my alma mater held for freshmen, we were supposed to discuss the morality of sex. There wasn’t much discussion, and there wasn’t much morality. The students concluded that as long as the sex wasn’t “mechanical,” that is, as long as it involved some real feeling, it was all right. Then one granny-glassed bearded freshman spoke up. “I don’t see anything wrong with mechanical sex,” he said. “It can be fun for both parties.” People looked at him with disapproval, but no one had anything to say, and the meeting ended.

Well, machines do not have sexual intercourse. Even the cool, abstracted actions the young man recommended could not be engaged in coolly and abstractedly. One must feign passion, even if one does not feel it. One must pretend to be making love, not like. One must appear at least to be giving all. One must be nude, even if not naked—unclothed, even while burying one’s intentions and feelings under a mountain of blankets, along with the meaning of the act, which is not simply dependent upon intentions and feelings in any case.

It will not do to say, “As long as people are honest with one another, fornication is all right.” The point is that they cannot be honest with one another in that situation. The supposed honesty of detachment, or deferral, or temporizing, or mutual hedonism, only embroils them in a deeper lie. The body in the act of generation says, whether we like it or not, “I am reaching out to the future, to a time when there will be no turning back.” The body, naked to behold in love, says, “There is nothing of mine that I do not offer as yours. We complete one another, man and woman.” Such affirmations transcend the division between the private and the public. They are therefore only made in honesty by people who are married—who have acknowledged publicly that they belong forever to one another and to the children they may conceive by the marital act.

No one but a sadist could say, “I feel no love for you, but am using your body as a convenient receptacle, for the sake of the pleasure. Afterwards I dearly hope you will not trouble me with your continued presence.” Is that too strong? What about this? “I like you very much, and yet I have no intention of spending the rest of my life with you, or even the rest of this year.” Or this? “Let’s pretend we are married, but let’s not actually get married, because I might change my mind about you.” Or this? “I am bored, and you are here.” Or this? “You are very good looking, and we will get married, maybe, someday, not too soon, and if we do conceive a child, we’ll deal with it then, I don’t know how.” Or this? “I don’t love you, but maybe if we do this a few times I can fool myself into thinking so.” Or this? “I want to love you, but I know you are too selfish to love me in return, or I’m not worthy of your attention, so I’ll do what you like, and hope.” Or this? “I am drunk, so nothing of what I do or say means anything.”

We do not say these things aloud, because to be candid in this way is to admit deception. It is to admit not that we think highly of sexual intercourse, but that we think little of it. It becomes trivial to us, though we dare not say so. What happens, then, to people who make a practice of lying to the people they are lying intimately with? We do not feel pity for those we deceive. We feel contempt. Our hearts are hardened. We look upon the frequent results of the fornicative lie—a passionate attachment to ourselves on the part of the deceived, or children—as affronts to our freedom. We resent them. After years of deceiving and being deceived, we conclude that people are not to be trusted; we become not prudent but circumspect, not wise but cynical, not strong but callous.

“If you’re not with the one you love,” they sang at Woodstock, cheering the evil of fornication, “love the one you’re with.” A lie on both ends, that, and cold to the core.